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Archive for August, 2022

Gray Treefrogs’ Self-cleaning Toe Pads

Scientists have discovered that the angle of the toe pads and a secretion of mucus are involved in a treefrog’s ability to stick to wet, smooth leaves, rough, dry trees and other surfaces. They also allow the toes to “self-clean.” 

To make their feet sticky treefrogs secrete mucus. They increase their adhesion by moving their feet against the surface of what they are clinging to in order to create friction. As a frog moves across a surface, its feet accumulate dirt, which impedes its ability to stick to the surface it’s walking on. Scientists have discovered that the mucus combined with this friction-creating movement not only allows the frog to adhere to the surface but simultaneously rids their feet of accumulated dirt and debris as they walk.

This remarkable adaptation may provide a design for self-cleaning sticky surfaces, which could be useful for a wide range of products, especially in contaminating environments such as medical bandages and long-lasting adhesives. (Thanks to Janice Perry for photo opportunity.)

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Ambush Bugs Ambushing

This Eight-spotted Forester Moth, Alypia octomaculata, didn’t have a chance once it decided to feed on the nectar of this Queen Anne’s Lace flowerhead. Hidden below the tiny white flowers waiting patiently for the next unsuspecting visitor was a Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata sp.). The moth alighted, started drinking and suddenly the ambush bug grabbed the moth with its powerful front legs, injected an immobilizing and digestive fluid, and then drank the liquefying nutrients from the prey’s body. Unlike spiders, which have a pair of fangs, ambush bugs have their mouthparts arranged into a single straw-like beak (visible in photo). As is evident, ambush bugs often capture insects much bigger than themselves.

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